Audio Storytelling

To begin Unit 4, I have watched two videos of Ira Grass’ series on storytelling, and picking out ‘nuggets’ that stand out to me. Within the first video Ira describes that we shouldn’t think of storytelling like we were taught at school, but that there are just ‘two basic building blocks’, one being the anecdote. A short but interesting or amusing story where there are stages in a story where one thing leads to the next, and to the next, and so on. There needs to be a momentum, so that even if the story is dull, it should feel like theres suspense and that the listener feels like something is going to happen. This also makes the listener want to listen. The other part of the anecdote is that it has to be raising a question from the beginning, a constant beat of raising questions and then being answered along the way which will also keep the listener engaged. The second building block is to have a moment of reflection. At some point, it has to be explained what the point of the story is, there has to be something at the end that has a meaning or purpose. If it’s a good story, it will bounce between these two building blocks.

His second video is about finding a good story. He mentions that finding the perfect story usually takes longer than actually going out and making it and how important it is to give yourself the same amount of time to come up with and find a story as you would to shoot it and make it. Something that really stood out to me within this second video is the way he explains that not all stories you go out to find will be as interesting as you thought it was going to be, such as a story you wanted to put on your radio show, so you have to be ruthless with that story and cut out all of the rubbish that might bore listeners, and to just have the interesting and heart felt parts that will make the story sound as interesting as you wanted it to be from the beginning. Not all stories will work out how you wanted them to, so he explains that you have to work with that and make it back into what you wanted. He also goes onto say that a huge part of success is failure, and that people will fail many times before they succeed, which just means that you’re doing it right. Ira also goes on to say that it is also a lot about luck, and sometimes it’s just about stumbling across something special, and until then there will be a lot of ‘crap’ that has to be gotten rid of first.

I then went on to looking at Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad: How radio creates empathy. He begins by describing the way with radio, we don’t have images to create a picture when something is being described. He makes this point that it’s like he is painting a picture for the listener but he’s not holding the paintbrush, you as the listener is. I really like that sentence he uses to describe how audio storytelling works that it takes two to cooperate together to make the story. He talks about the connection people have through radio, and how much he loves that about radio and believes it has something to do with this ‘co-imagining’, another word I really like.


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